Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Avalanche to Terminal Traverse

For the last couple of years, Julian and I have been meeting in Rogers Pass for a mini alpine mission amidst work road trips. Last year we ventured up into the high country around Hermit Meadows, completing the horseshoe of that area in 16 hrs car to car - It was great. This year we had intentions to complete the full horeshoe starting at Avalanche and ending at Abbot Ridge.

After the usual meet up at the campground, catch up ensued and a fury of packing and re packing commenced, scrutinizing each piece of gear as it made its way in the pack. We wanted to travel light and as fast as possible so 25 L packs with one night of bivi gear were loaded up and crammed to make work.

We awoke well before dawn and headed up the familiar avalanche crest trail - I had been here once before on the avalanche to Eagle traverse and pieces of that past experience popped up here and there as we made our way quietly through the forest to the alpine and the toe of Avalanche mountain.

As we scrambled along, I realized that the smoke from the N BC fire might play a factor this trip and as we arrived at the bottom of Mt. Sir Donald a few hours later with sore throats, eyes and lungs I started to lose my mojo for our ambitious outing. After some hindsight, I think a few weeks of above average stress at work also played a role and I was just feeling tired and mentally more in favor of a holiday then a long solo in the high alpine. So at 11am we decided to stop moving and chill under Sir D, watch the scenery and wake up early to finish just the W half of the traverse.

In the early AM, we scrambled up Sir D arriving at the summit in about 2 hr and 20min before down climbing and rappelling (5 x 30m raps) the S side to a ledge system gaining the terminal peaks and after, the gentle glacier to Perly Rock and out on the outstanding GNP trail system, arriving back at camp well before dinner.

We ultimately adopted a fast and chill style of pace where we moved relatively quickly (all relative, are are full time excel masters!) and had 2 short days on account, allowing the chilling to unfold in a big way. It felt more like the vacation I needed rather then a soul search so I came back revitalized, which in the end was perfect for me at the time. It is always a special thing for me to be in the mountains with a good friend in cool places and so I can see it for what it is and be quite happy with what we did.

Although we didn't accomplish our objective due to my mindset and to a lesser extent, the smokey skies,  Julian understood and forgave my shortcomings (there are many) this outing and we are already planning other missions. Thanks for being a good pal, means a lot!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Nootka Trail

Over a beautiful stretch of weather in July, Erin and I spent a wonderful week hiking the Nootka Trail on the W coast of Vancouver Island. Although busy (10 groups hiking the trail with us) by coastal hiking standards, we found solitude and wildness among the rugged and inspiring terrain of this area.

The trail mainly follows beaches and tidal shelves with small detours through the rocky headlands that have no such beach access. Through these detours is where the cruxes live by way of steep, rooty trails. These detours are really hyped up but if you have experience with hiking in any form above paved paths, its not a big deal, just take your time and watch your footing. The beach hiking is of course the best and underfoot can vary from fine sand, rock shelves to pebbles and most everything in between. One section has basketball sized rocks for about 1 K, which we really enjoyed hopping around on.

We wanted to take in the scenes and side trails so we didn't have a lot of ambition when it came to KM's. We would hike less then 10 K a day and enjoy the campsites in the afternoon, reading, making cocktails and taking naps. For us this was a vacation in the purest sense, mixing a bit of exercise with lots of relaxing with the intent to come back re-charged after long and sometimes stressful work stints for us both. We really enjoyed this hike and are still reveling in the scenery and moments shared. Some highlights were the wildlife in which we saw a black bear and lots of eagles, shore birds, crabs, snakes, wolf tracks, jelly fish and star fish, the beautiful camping along the way, always dictated by the availability of fresh water and the amazing sunsets.

 For me it was a great chance to spend some quality time with Erin just living simply and taking in the area. As always, you learn more about someone in a week in the backcountry then years in an urban environment and I liked what I learned ;-).

The trail ends in the very historic Friendly Cove and a sailing aboard the also historic, Uchuck III, very cool. I will let the photos do the rest of the talking!